Panaji, Oct 16: Aam Aadmi Party, which is making an aggressive foray into Goa in view of 2017 Assembly polls, today kicked off a torch rally to remember Jack Sequeira, credited for laying the foundation for Goa's statehood in 20th century.
The rally, started from South Goa's Fatorpa village near Margao town, will travel through few villages and cities before arriving at Panaji tomorrow. The rally is being held to commemorate the 27th death anniversary of Sequeira, Goa's first Leader of Opposition who spearheaded a movement for separate statehood during historic Opinion Poll of 1967.
Goa was annexed into India by an Army operation on December 19, 1961. It was integrated into the Indian Union in 1962. Goa's first polls were held on December 9, 1963.
Sequeira's family members and friends have welcomed the AAP's move to remember him. "As a family, we feel happy that he is remembered by the people. Maybe, by a political party or any individual, we should never forget this hero who fought for Goa's cause," Jack Sukhija, a grandson of Sequeira, told PTI today.
To a query whether they are apprehensive about AAP deriving a political mileage out of Sequeira, Sukhija said, "We are happy that AAP is recognising him. We (family) don't know about whether his image will be used for election or not. I cannot say anything."
Sequeira, who died at the age of 74, is popularly known as 'Father of the Opinion Poll', the referendum which saw Goans voting to remain independent, opposing its merger with neighbouring state of Maharashtra in 1967.
"If any leader is given recognition by any political party, we should be happy about it. Their (AAP's) act shows that they are respecting him," said Siddhanath Buyao, son of late Ulhas Buyao, a close aide of Sequeira.
"Sequeira needs to be remembered forever by Goans as whatever identity we are enjoying right now is only because we remained independent," he said.
Siddhanath, however, ruled out the possibility of anyone using fame of Sequeira to garner votes during polls. AAP leader Oscar Rebello said his party is honouring Sequeira through the programme and there is nothing political about it.
"We even commemorated anniversary of late Dayanand Bandodkar (first Chief Minister of Goa and a political opponent of Sequeira). There is nothing political in it. We are not trying to send any political message out of it. These are the two leaders (Bandodkar and Sequeira) who nurtured the whole idea of Goa," he said.